Creating the Flavors of the Future with Rhino’s R&D Team

July 3, 2019 at 10:29am

Rhino Foods didn’t become the industry’s supplier of choice by accident. It’s all thanks to our customer-driven innovation that Rhino has scored its reputation. We pride ourselves on finding unique solutions for our customers in the ice cream industry who are looking for the highest quality ingredients, lowest-risk partners, and ridiculously delicious inclusions.

Sometimes, our customers come to us with specific ideas (like that first time Ben & Jerry’s wanted to try cookie dough in ice cream back in 1991) and sometimes, it’s the other way around. New concepts are always in the works at Rhino Foods. Our Research and Development experts, Dale Conoscenti and Rob Douglas, lean on flavor trends, food science, and their own discerning palates.

But how? Let’s take our 2019 flavors, for instance.

  • Spiced Rum Cake mixes cake pieces with cinnamon ice cream, caramel, and rum-soaked raisins.
  • Peanut Butter Pie, a textured and flavorful ice cream that evokes total satisfaction.
  • Mixed with maple ice cream and a caramel swirl, the Brown Butter Blondie is a complex and warm addition.
  • Last but certainly not least, the soft and nutty Coconut Cream, which pairs coconut ice cream with caramel and chocolate flakes.

Not bad, right?

With decades of experience between them, Rob and Dale gave us some insight into their process and the inception of these flavors.

Spiced Rum Cake Ice Cream Inclusion

Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Inclusions

Always keep an eye on the trends. “A typical day for me will start by just seeing what is out there on the internet myself. I’ll check out Pinterest, I’ll check out the food racks, and see what’s hot and see what’s going on in the food world, and see how I can bring some of that to Rhino for new concepts,” says Rob. For example, the Spiced Rum Cake flavor was a concept based on a 2018 flavor trend he saw: Spirits.

The Brown Butter Blondie has a similar backstory. “Brown butter has been around for centuries, but it didn’t really catch on in the U.S. until the last couple of years,” says Dale. “When I started seeing brown butter cookies and ice cream, I wondered how we could create our own spin on it. I considered what other components we could add that would accentuate the brown butter and make it more interesting.”

Continuous innovation. Prototyping is the name of the game when you’re as precise as our team.For the Spiced Rum Cake, I did a whole line of pound cakes in rum flavors,” says Rob. “I did several different ones, but spice cake, I think I ended on 15 and people like number seven still the best.” With a standard of patience and commitment like Rob’s, the results are bound to deliver superior flavor.

Sometimes new ideas come from old traditions. The Southern Peanut Butter Pie invokes nostalgia, but is re-imagined for a whole new ice cream product. Dale says, “That was a fun one for me. I like taking the old and bringing the new to it, or designing a version for us that keeps it classic.”

Brown Butter Blondie Ice Cream Inclusions

Coconut Cream Ice Cream Inclusions

Consider all the details. There are many elements that make up an ice cream experience that you may not even be aware of. For creations like the Peanut Butter Pie, “Texture is so important.” Dale says, “I like to think of all the layers that are possible. The goal is to get the explosion of the peanut in the dough piece, and a different layer of peanut in the ice cream.”

In designing the Coconut Cream, he explains, “A frozen chocolate chip will crack your teeth. Instead, we use what’s called a compound chocolate, which has been formulated with oils. You get the chocolate flavor, but when you bite it, it’s soft.” As you can see, it’s all about the little things.

These are just a few bites of wisdom from our team. While it all comes back to the customer’s needs, it always helps to have sparks of inspiration ready to share.